Monday, January 12, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Horrible...Our Vacation to Disney World!

WARNING: This is kind of long. I wrote it for my own memories, as well as to share with you. So feel free to skim, or skip ahead, or whatever, I won't be offended. :) Also if you're wondering where the pictures are, see the note at the end.

Two days into our vacation, Alana texted me something like...How are you?

My response was something like...We're...Okay. So far it's been good, bad, and horrible.

And now, post-trip, my feelings are much the same.

It was good!

There are lots of wonderful memories that I will treasure. I want to share them all with you, but I also know that this would get reaaaly long if I did that, so I will share just a few.

-The flights. The kids did Awesome! Thank you Benadryl! :)

-The Character meals. They were wonderful. Two favorite memories are...Ellie leading the the "parade" of characters through the Crystal Palace restaurant at Magic Kingdom; and Annie, looking up at Ariel at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, and saying...You awe my FAVOWIT pwincess Awiel. Too too cute.

-The girls and daddy playing at the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground, while Austin slept in my lap.

-Watching The Little Mermaid after dark from the VERY warm pool at our resort.

-The Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom. It was Awesome. Lions and Hippos, Giraffes and Ostriches, just roaming free in a native environment. The jeeps you are in keep moving for your safety, but slow down enough for you to take quick pictures. I've never been on a real safari, so I don't know how close to "real" it is, but it was pretty cool.

-Riding Test Track with Annie. Tiny Annie, who loves all things FAST!

-The Finding Nemo experience at Epcot. You ride in a seashell through a real/virtual aquarium tank. You alternately see Marlin and Dory and Nemo, with real fish. So realistic and cool! Then you walk through and see tons of aquariums filled with the real fish from the movie. Eels, Clown fish, Tangs...Then you can climb into Bruce's mouth and take your picture! So fun! We loved this, and so did our kids. I think we spent over an hour in that place.

-And the last night we were there, in Epcot. Just before the Illuminations show, we spent some time at a Kidcot stop in a store in Norway. Ellie and Annie colored Norwegian masks, and just talked and talked to this sweet Norwegian girl named Mette. Mette was very attentive to everything they had to say, as they worked diligently on the masks that she gave them. Ellie thought it was so neat that she was really from Norway!

It was bad.

-Or maybe I should say, it was Hard. It is HARD to be outnumbered at Disney World. It's hard at home, so of course that is just compounded on vacation. Juggling all the stuff, strollers, kids, luggage...Not an easy task. Some of our most difficult times were...

-Getting on and off the planes.

-All. The. Walking. Not just IN the parks, but too and from the Disney Transportation Shuttles. Also anytime we saw a show, or ate at a restaurant, or even in many buildings, we had to leave our stroller outside, and then walk next to FOREVER to get to whatever it was. This is hard with 3 young kids!

-Navigating the Florida Highways. Lets just say that their road signs aren't all that clear, and Jason and I had a few...disagreements.

It was horrible.

We had a few major issues and explosions from our Ellie. We know she has some issues that set her off...change of environment, being tired, being rushed, being in new situations...all of which were thrown at her the very first day. I knew we would have some problems. That is just life with Ellie. But it got a little more extreme at times than I anticipated. We're working on some help for her. I'd just ask that you keep her in your prayers.

Annnd, it was CRAZY!

You know the crazy is going to follow us somehow, someway. And this trip was no exception! We cut it a little too close for comfort on catching our flight to Florida. It took longer than anticipated to get us and all our stuff through check-in and security in Springfield. We got to the gate about 30 seconds before the first boarding call for our flight. Whew! But no worries, we did okay. So, for the flight back, we allowed a little extra time, you know, having learned our lesson. We left our Hotel for the airport at 5:35 am. After several missed exits, and turn-arounds, we got on the right track, and made it to the airport. Everything was going smoothly, and even though we'd wasted some time with all the turning around, we were still there an hour and 15 minutes before our flight left.

And then we saw the line.

I have never, in my life, seen a line that long to check in at an airline. Not in Chicago, or LA, or St. Louis. Never. We knew immediately that we were in some trouble. We were flying Allegiant Air, which was great, except for this! They had 8 flights leaving all within one hour of each other, with only 2 employees checking people in. They finally opened a direct line for the flight to Springfield, but didn't make an announcement they had done that. By the time we realized we could switch lines, it was 20 minutes to flight time. As soon as we got our boarding passes, we raced to security. We moved fast, but with 3 kids, several bags, the double stroller...well, it takes some time! I have to say, the security guard at Orland0-Sanford airport was very helpful though! We had just loaded everything back on the stroller when we heard the final boarding call for our flight. We started running. I'm sure we were quite the sight! Me, with the double stroller with Ellie and Austin in it, and stuff piled on top of it, Annie running along side me, Jason with 4 suitcases stacked on top of each other...all racing through the airport. Then we heard...Flight 733 to Springfield...FINAL BOARDING CALL! K**** Party of 5, You're flight is LEAVING.

Yes they did. They called our names. That is NOT good!

We made it. I got within view of the gate just after that last announcement and shouted...THAT'S US!!! The gate attendants smiled, sweet, "Oh my you poor things" smiles, and helped us get on board. Oh my. Just typing it still makes my heart race!

30 minutes into the flight home, everyone of my family members were fast asleep. I think God knew I needed a break. :)

So there you have it. The good, the bad, the horrible, and the Crazy. That is us. That is my family. On vacation, and in normal life.

I'm glad we went, I'm glad to be home, and I know we'll go back someday. After all, it really is a magical place!

One final note. I can't find my camera. I'm afraid it may have fallen out of my purse on the plane. So if you'd say a little prayer, that would be wonderful. I've left a message with the airline. Otherwise I'll be paying some big bucks for the 25 pictures the Disney photographer took for us. And buying a new camera. Not good. We made it through that whole trip, and didn't lose anything...until the end. And of all things...Arrgghh. Anyway, just pray!


Jamie said...

I'm glad you had some fun. Sounds like quite an experience. I so hope that you find you camera. I paid for some pictures from the photopass even though I took a lot with my own.

JP's MOM said...

Wow. My heart was a racing as if I didn't know the outcome of whether you made the flight.....and duh clearly i knew you made the flight.

Alana said...

Wow! Great post, Shelley. I loved reading all about your adventure. So sad about your camera...I will pray it shows up soon! Love you and I'm so glad you're back...missed you!

Laney-Lou said...

I've been waiting oh so excitedly to see this post!! What memories...ALL of them! Sweet moments you'll cherish always, frustrations that you'll look back on someday and giggle (at least we hope!), and moments that you'll always remember when you get a little frustrated...just know if could be worse and you are blessed! I DEFINITELY know the sick feeling of loosing pictures from such a special occasion. I'M PRAYING HARD LOVE!!! Can't wait to see those picture...I know you'll get your camera back!

Janelle said...

I think the lions and hippos ate your camera.

Love you!

Darlene R. said...

My heart was racing just reading this post! I can't believe they had to call your name! That's a little too close for comfort! :)

I'm glad you had a pretty good time. I will pray for Ellie, and for mom and dad too. Hang in there, girl. (Oh, and that your camera turns up!)

michelle said...

I'm glad you all had time together as a family! This will be a vacation your girls will remember and talk about for a long time! I'm still praying for your camera to show up!

Carissa said...

great recap shelley. you are such a stud. you did it! and you're home and everyone is safe and sound. way to go!

Fran said...

We've done Disney twice so I know exactly what you are saying. Its a blast of a trip but so dang hard.
Need a break from the trip, huh?

Love ya girl,